Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Weekend wrapup: Division I Cross Country results from Eastern & Gonzaga...


Eastern Washington University runners Paul Limpf and Alex Smyth earned All-Big Sky Conference honors with top 10 finishes at Saturday’s (Nov. 1) Big Sky Cross Country Championships in Portland, Ore.

Eastern’s men finished a best-ever third in the men’s team competition with Northern Arizona and Weber State finishing one-two, respectively. The women were seventh after having a best-ever finish of fourth last season.

"Third is the best finish since the team entered NCAA Division I in 1987," said head cross country coach Chris Zeller. "We feel good about that finish."

"The women’s team is very young," said Zeller. "We picked teams that we could be competitive with and do well against. Our goal was seventh -- we thought we could pull it off and we did."

Limpf had a time of 23:34.9 to finish fourth in the 8,000-meter men’s race to trail winner David McNiell of team champion Northern Arizona by just 14.9 seconds. Last year, Limpf finished fifth with a time of 24:34.1 and in 2006 he was seventh to earn All-Big Sky honors for three years in a row.

Smyth finished sixth with a time of 23:47.6. Last season he was 13th with a time of 25:08.2.

Other Eastern men’s finishers were Kyle King (15th, 24:34.1), Tyler Justice (38th, 25:42.5), Cody Bradwell (42nd, 25:53.7), Cody Barton (44th, 25.57.9), Graham Vaux (46th, 26:04.9) and Bowe Ebding (56th, 26:35.0).

For the women, senior Amber Nickelson finished 16th with a time of 17:53.8. Last year, she was 26th with a time of 19:04.1.

"Amber is going to regionals in a couple of weeks," added Zeller. "She has just one more race. Her goal was all-conference but 16th is her best finish. She was pleased with that and how her teammates did."

Women finishers for EWU include Brittney Williams (31st, 18:31.8), Stephanie Dye (45th, 18:55.2), Lauren Matthews (57th, 19:43.7), Amanda Weaver (64th, 20:34.4), Kelly Downey (65th, 20:52.6) and April Axtell (67th, 21:30.3).

Eastern's men's and women's teams continue their seasons on Nov. 15 at the NCAA West Regional Championships in Stanford, Calif.


Gonzaga University senior Colby Litzenberger earned honorable mention honors with a 14th-place finish and sophomore Matt Bejar finished 17th at the West Coast Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday at Crystal Springs Cross Country Course.

The Bulldog men finished sixth with 145 points, eight behind fifth-place Pepperdine University, and the University of Portland continued it domination with its 30th consecutive title with 38 points.

Gonzaga's women finished seventh with 211 points, well behind sixth-place Pepperdine University with 117. Portland captured its seventh straight tile and 16th in the last 18 years with 43 points.

Litzenberger covered the 8K course in 27:02 and Bejar was right behind in 27:04. Litzenberger finishes his career with three top 20 finishes as he placed 20th last year and 12th as a sophomore in 2006. It was his first All-WCC recognition.

David Kinsella of the Pilots, a graduate of Inglemoor HS in Bothell, captured individual honors in 25:11 as Portland had three runners in the top eight. Portland 10-point win over Loyola Marymount University made it the closest men's race since 1985 when the Pilots edged Santa Clara University by nine points.

On the women's side, sophomore Laura Volcheff was the top Gonzaga finisher in 34th in 23:59 over the 6K layout. Junior Molly Funk was 40th in 24:27.

LMU's Tara Erdmann captured the individual title in 21:54 but the Pilots edged the Lions by five points for the team title, the closest women's battle since 1991 when Portland squeaked past Saint Mary's College by two points.

All runners in the Top 10 earn All-WCC honors and finishers 11-15 are accorded honorable mention status.

OTHER NOTES: Former Bellarmine Prep standout and 2007 NCAA 1500m champ Brie Felnagle from the University of North Carolina finished third in the ACC Championships in Chapel Hill, NC.

Felnagle ran 20:23 for 6000 meters on the Tar Heels' home course.

Felnagle is one of the leading contenders for a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships on November 24th in Terre Haute, Indiana.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington, and the University of North Carolina contributed to this report.

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